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Jeffrey S. Solochek, Times Staff Writer

Jeffrey S. Solochek

Jeffrey S. Solochek writes about schools and education for the Tampa Bay Times. Solochek has covered the school districts in Hernando, Hillsborough and Pasco counties since joining the Times in 2000. He also oversees The Gradebook education blog.

Phone: (813) 909-4614

Email: jsolochek@tampabay.com

Blog: The Gradebook

Twitter: @JeffSolochek

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  1. Florida education news: Testing, textbooks, coding and more

    Blog

    TESTING: The Florida Senate Education Committee delays consideration of testing reform legislation amid disputes over process, the Times/Herald reports. Entering the meeting, some leaders were prepared to merge two competing bills into one. More from the News Service of Florida, Tallahassee Democrat....

  2. House, Senate advance bills making it easier to challenge school books, materials

    Blog

    In the face of parent and community complaints about the content of some school books and materials, Florida lawmakers on Monday moved ahead legislation to make it easier to see what schools are using and challenge the items.

    HB 989 and SB 1210 aim to build upon an effort three years ago to give local school districts more control over the materials used in their schools. Amended amid concerns of initially going too far, the bills would give parents and community residents more access to the books inside the schools, and require districts to establish processes for parents and residents to object to items in use....

    A Pasco County parent reviews a novel that some parents objected to as inappropriate for middle school children in 2016.
  3. Florida Senate Education Committee postpones consideration of testing bill

    Blog

    With several potentially contentious amendments filed and less than 30 minutes remaining for its meeting, the Florida Senate Education Committee narrowly decided Monday to postpone consideration of SB 926, which is poised to become the primary vehicle this session to alter the state's testing system....

  4. This time, no delays expected for Pasco County report cards

    Blog

    At the end of the first semester, Pasco County schools delayed delivery of student report cards, and then missed that second deadline, too.

    The issue boiled down to problems with a new data system, and incorrect calculations. Officials pledged at the ultimate release of the report cards that the scenario would not repeat itself....

  5. Eyes turn to Florida Senate Education Committee for testing debate

    Blog

    Social media heated up over the weekend as Florida parents and activists seeking changes to the state's high-stakes testing and accountability system tried to raise attention to Monday's Senate Education Committee session.

    The committee, which meets at 1:30 p.m. (watch on The Florida Channel), is to feature debate and a vote on this year's primary testing legislation. It looks to be Sen. Anitere Flores' SB 926, nicknamed the "Fewer, Better Tests" bill to the chagrin of critics who note it does little to eliminate or improve state exams. ...

    Sen. David Simmons
  6. Florida education news: School visits, testing, teacher contracts and more

    Blog

    SCHOOL VISITS: Sen. Anitere Flores seeks to give Florida school board members access to schools in their districts without interference.

    TESTING: Sen. Flores brings her "Fewer, Better Tests" bill to the Education Committee while a more expansive bill by Sen. Bill Montford waits, the Tallahassee Democrat reports. Sen. Montford remains optimistic his ideas will be heard at some point in the process. Testing legislation is among nine key bills that could affect Florida education, Florida Today reports....

  7. ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of March 19, 2017

    Blog

    It was another active week for Florida education news, with controversial measures moving through the Legislature and new revelations about achievement and access gaps for minority children. A federal judge allowed immigrant families to pursue their lawsuit alleging Collier County schools denied their children an education, and the Jefferson County School Board approved a contract to have all its schools run by a charter operator....

  8. Senator proposes more autonomy for Florida school board members visiting schools

    Blog

    Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, has offered an amendment to her testing legislation that has nothing to do with testing at all.

    Rather, Flores has proposed 21 lines that would ensure school board members have unfettered access to schools in their districts. The amendment would allow individual board members to visit any traditional or charter school "on any day and at any time at his or her pleasure."...

  9. Sen. Montford remains confident Florida testing will be scaled back

    Blog

    The chief proponent of legislation to significantly scale back Florida's high-stakes testing system is sounding upbeat about the chances for success, even after his bill was left off the Senate Education Committee's next meeting agenda while a competing measure appeared.

    "I'm confident that one way or another we'll get our bill heard," Sen. Bill Montford, the Tallahassee Democrat who also heads the state superintendents association, told the Gradebook. "If not, maybe they can do a committee bill."...

    Sen. Bill Montford
  10. Gradebook podcast: Education bills on the move, turnaround schools and more

    Blog

    Times education reporter Jeff Solochek highlights some of the bills moving closer to becoming to state education law, including SB 964 and SB 926 on testing, SB 436 and HB 303 on religious expression, and HB 591 and SB 808 on class size. Then Times education reporter Marlene Sokol joins the conversation for a discussion of the efforts to improve four-time F-rated Potter Elementary School. Read Sokol's story and follow-up for more details....

    Potter Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Ciera Fox, 28, who attended Potter as a child, says repetition and routines help to comfort kids as they take on responsibility.
  11. Florida education news: Religious speech, teacher contracts, free lunch and more

    Blog

    RELIGIOUS SPEECH: The Florida Senate adopts a controversial bill aimed at allowing more religious expression in public schools, including among employees.

    TEACHER CONTRACTS: The Florida House moves ahead legislation to prevent school districts from negotiating added job protections for teachers on annual contract....

  12. Bill to limit job guarantees for annual contract teachers advances in Florida House

    Blog

    Since Florida lawmakers eliminated annual contracts for public school teachers, a majority of the state's school districts including Pinellas have guaranteed yearly renewals to those educators who earned an "effective" or "highly effective" evaluation rating.

    The Florida House Education Committee on Thursday moved to end that authority. On a split vote, the committee favored a bill (HB 373) prohibiting school boards from awarding any contractual terms beyond what's provided in law....

  13. Florida education news: Rezoning, teacher unions, grad rates and more

    Blog

    REZONING: The fate of the Pasco County school district's newly approved attendance boundaries sits in the hands of a state special hearing officer.

    LABOR NEWS: The Florida House advances "union busting" legislation that has little chance of becoming law. • The fight over who will lead the Palm Beach Classroom Teachers Association continues, with one candidate claiming the union is trying to tie him to Donald Trump, the Palm Beach Post reports....

  14. Pasco school boundary dispute now up to judge

    Education

    The fate of recently approved school boundary maps for east and west Pasco County now lies in the hands of state administrative judge D.W. Alexander.

    Over two lengthy hearings, held Feb. 27-28 and March 15, Alexander listened to parents and school district officials offer frequently opposing testimony about the attendance zone process and whether it met the letter of state law.

    If he sides with the parents, and finds the board did not follow proper rule-making procedures, the district could have to conduct the rezoning again....

  15. Charter school operators criticize Florida's new capital outlay funding rule

    Blog

    Florida charter school operators took issue Wednesday with proposed rules governing their access to state capital outlay funding, a subject of heavy debate almost annually in Tallahassee....

    Mark Gotz of the Florida Association of Independent Public Schools questions the rationale behind proposed charter school rules before the State Board of Education on Wednesday.